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What Is an Oil Change Service?
You’ve probably heard the phrase “when it’s time for an oil change,” but you may not have really considered what that means or what is included in an oil change service. Most of us take our cars in for service when the corresponding light comes on, drop it off, and half-listen while the experienced and trained technician walks through the list of services on the receipt. After all, as long as the oil is changed, that’s what’s important, right?
Well, mostly, yes. But understanding what is going on inside your car can help you make informed decisions when it comes to maintenance. To begin with, motor oil is the fluid that keeps the metal parts of your engine lubricated. It reduces friction and helps prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime between all of the moving parts. Like all of us, oil ages over time, and that grime that it previously carried away starts to build up and reduce the effectiveness of the oil.
Isn’t that where the oil filter comes in? Yes, but a dirty filter can only do so much. Imagine trying to clean your entire kitchen with the same paper towel over and over. After a few swipes, that paper towel is going to be utterly disgusting, and instead of cleaning your kitchen, it will just help you spread dirt and grease. Oil filters are similar- just like the oil, they need to be changed regularly in order to do the job they’re meant to do.
At the simplest of levels, an oil change service includes the technician removing the used motor oil and dirty filter from your engine and putting in new oil and a clean filter. But because most of us are incredibly busy, it’s also a good idea to have the trained technicians check out a few other things while you and your car are already at the service station. This can include double-checking the brakes, tires, windshield wipers and washer fluid, power steering and transmission fluids, and other basic maintenance items. Typically, the techs will complete these inspections at no extra charge, though there will be costs associated with any repairs or replacements you choose to have done on top of the oil change while you’re there.
Whether you drive a sporty coupe or a family-size SUV, your engine requires your assistance. Under the hood of your vehicle is a complicated system designed for high performance, and lots of heat is generated when all of those metal parts are in action. In addition, we don’t drive our vehicles in a vacuum. We drive down stretches of road where dust, leaves, grass, gravel, and strange debris of all sorts can kick up into the inner workings of the vehicles we drive.
This combination of heat and debris means bad news to finely-tuned mechanical motor parts. Extra friction and heat can cause damage to the parts, while the build-up of grime can cause them to lock up- sometimes permanently. Motor oil is your engine’s best defense against long-term health problems. Fresh oil helps lubricate those delicate metal parts, allowing them to move as intended. The constant flow of oil while the motor is running also helps cool down those red-hot metal pieces, as well.
The oil also flushes the debris, preventing it from building up in the intricate nooks, crannies, and interlocking pieces that comprise your engine. While dirt and grime are to be expected, too much build-up in one area can prevent the precision-tuned pieces within your vehicle from moving correctly. That can lead to leakage, lock up, or breakdown over time.
Rather than cleaning out your engine every time you drive your vehicle, all you need to do is make sure the oil levels are at the manufacturer’s recommended levels and that fresh oil and a new oil filter are placed in your vehicle per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Generally speaking, oil changes are recommended between 5,000 and 7,500 miles, but always double-check the owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specific requirements.
Taking your car, truck, or SUV in for regular oil changes can sometimes be a tricky thing to remember. While many modern vehicles have reminder lights that flash to get our attention, it’s often possible to accidentally override them or to simply forget about them until it’s too late. Aside from reducing friction, keeping your engine cool and functioning, and helping to clean debris from your engine, getting the oil in your vehicle changed regularly can have some very positive benefits for you and your car, including: